Places Of Edge

Fargo Georgia is a tiny town of 387 souls on the very edge of the Okefenokee Swamp. Make that 388, because the young woman across the street from our field office had a son this year, and I think someone would have mentioned any more births, or any deaths. When I got here eighteen months ago, I was a stranger in a familiar land. I know small town South Georgia, and I know Swamp.  Most here have come to accept me, or at least tolerate me. Betimes, I cannot help but wonder how much of this is the knowledge that I am only passing through. Were there a way, and I haven’t given up on this yet, I would stay in Fargo, and make it my home. Fargo is an island of intentional isolationism in a subdivision culture.

I was walking to the project one day when I saw him in the street. In an odd sort of portent, I saw the little Jack Russell with a purple collar lying in the middle of the road, still and unmoving. A still Jack Russell, in the road, is a bad sign, but as I walked up to the animal, he awoke with a start and ran away yelping as if I had hit him. The guys who were in the yard across the street laughed at him for this, and we all thought it was funny. Since then, the dog has steadfastly refused to make friends with me.

I like that about Fargo, that the dogs sleep in the road and everyone goes around them. There is a very sad looking Boxer who sleeps on Padgett Circle, who has made friends with me. He’s a spoiled dog accustomed to leaning into a person while being petted, and he expects me to spend time with him whenever I go that way. I’m like that, you know. Some people make friends with people where ever they go; I make friends with dogs. I cannot tell you who lives where, unless that person has a dog. Yes, it does occur to me that if I felt this way about people I would have more friends, but it also occurs to me that I already do.


As a bridge builder, I’m accustomed to seeing dead animals thrown off of bridges. I renamed a waterway “Dead Pig Creek” for the massive porcine corpse that was found there one day, and lost two days later. The name stuck, at least around the office. Dogs are no different, and I’ve found my share of dead dogs on creek banks. People tend to think of bridges as places of edge. They tend to believe that anything thrown over disappears forever, and no one will ever see it again. I found a Blue Journal left on a bridge and I’ve found a note to a husband, written by a wife, expressing utter disgust as the way she felt every time he touched her. Why did that woman throw that note over the side of a bridge? We humans tend to think of bridges as places of edge.


I found the body today, so he must have been killed this weekend. The purple collar gave it away, and I wonder why whoever tossed the body over didn’t keep it. I agree with the idea of letting the body return to the earth, but this isn’t that. This isn’t a spiritual statement of letting what was become what is again. This is the edge thing, the getting rid of something in a manner that ends all connections with it. The Jack Russell is dead now, and there’s no mistaking the dead for the sleeping, or the sleeping for the dead. I know now I’ll never be a photographer because while I can write about the dog I could not shoot the body.


I agree with the sentiment that we ought to do more to let the dead go back to the earth. Humans waste far too much in the way we deal with the dead, and dying. It makes no sense to put someone in a box where they will never decay. But we ought not to throw the dead away, either. When the times comes I’ll bury Bert and Sam, in graves, in tears, but I won’t leave them in a place as if I was just getting rid of them. I’ll keep their memories and I’ll keep their collars. I found the Jack Russell’s collar nearby what was left. I couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it, and won’t do it. I couldn’t take to a place of edge and merely toss aside, those who have kept me, through love and loyalty, so far from such places.


Take Care,


Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 5/16/2008 7:47:24 PM
Heh heh heh, okay since you forced me into it.

vwhitlock   vwhitlock wrote
on 5/16/2008 11:40:59 AM
Mike, Now you've opened the door! When someone says "do not get me started" that means they definitely have opinions - so let's hear them!

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 5/15/2008 6:53:28 PM
Victoria, Thanks for your kind words, and do not get me started on funerals.

vwhitlock   vwhitlock wrote
on 5/15/2008 11:37:25 AM
Bridges as "places of edge". Very insightful. I had never thought of it that way before...the whole concept of someone being so uncaring...let's make it vanish, effortlessly. In Asheville, NC there is a concrete bridge over a particular avenue that the city had enclosed with a wire mesh canopy to prevent people from jumping. For some reason, that particular bridge held an allure for the suicidal people of the area. Of course, they may not have all been suicidal...some may have been pushed or dumped. It was known as a jumper's bridge so I'm sure someone over the years used that to their advantage. It was a poor section of town, known for vagrants, etc. but that particular bridge popped to mind while I was reading your article. I wonder how many people were drawn or hauled to that place of edge? I'm also glad to hear that someone out in the world agrees that we do not need to be buried in vaults. Personally, I find it entirely morbid to preserve the dead this way but then again I hate the tradition of family night visitation and open caskets. I think both things are just cruel and inhuman for the family and friends.

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 5/6/2008 8:41:05 PM
Why thank you Liz, I have always supected much commonality between us.

Mike Firesmith
Special Interest
writing Mike Firesmith
I write
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To The Edge
A Word from the Writer
This will just piss you off.